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  Weekly Feature: (July 31, 2005)


The Essay
Part Three: Communicate
Jennifer's Weekly Feature


You have something to say; say it clearly, directly and simply.

Say it Clearly - What you have to say can be communicated clearly to your reader by being careful in your use of sentence types and following a standardized format.

While a mixture of simple, compound and complex sentences (see Steck-Vaughn Language Exercises for Adults Levels G and H) is stronger writing stylistically, only use these two latter types when you have mastered their form and their use has become automatic.

The first type, the simple sentence, has, in contrast, the beauty of being both easy to master and rarely misunderstood.

The other clarity aid is format. The format of, for example, the four- or five-paragraph essay will help you keep your points in order, and keep you from wandering off-topic.

When each paragraph can illustrate only one point, you quickly see how limited your are by each topic sentence, the more so as each topic sentence has to support your thesis. Following the format will help your essay to be clear.

Say it Directly – Conventions such as punctuation and sentence structure help ensure you are being direct in your writing. Never be afraid to end one sentence and start a new one. Too often our sentences go on and on when a simple period could end your sentence crisply and allow the reader to focus on the next point.

Remember, what is clear to you may not be to your reader: allow the reader to catch up to your thought processes. Keep your sentences – and your essay – moving forward to a memorable, well-expressed conclusion.

And in terms of sentence structure, one idea per sentence, as per the simple-sentence type noted above, can be a simple way to avoid numerous problems and ensure you are being direct .

Say it Simply – This is where we look at the essay core: meaning. How do we convey meaning best? By example. When I write, I am aware of how much words do not say. While, as noted above, we often think that what we write is clear, simple, even obvious, usually this is not an accurate picture of our communication.

As words can be interpreted many different ways, give an example for every reason or point you give. This will ensure that what you mean to say is what is “heard”. A short example to illustrate each and every point is the simplest way to writing success. If it is true that we write to “make meaning”, do that simply by example.

For further information on the essay, see any edition of Evergreen: A Guide to Writing and further information on the PALC website.

View The Essay Part One or The Essay Part Two


Visit Last Week's Feature:
Road Safety: Be Calm, Be Aware, Be Courteous


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